Just call Richard and Kathie Winter an all-star team. Through the years, the pair has utilized their complementary talents for organizing signature events to bring in big dollars for a multitude of nonprofits. In one of their charitable triumphs, the couple took on co-chair roles for Circus Flora’s Flora Dora gala—doubling fundraising from the previous year.
The Winters see it as their responsibility to give back to the community—especially when it comes to helping kids and keeping the arts alive. When reaching out to serve nonprofits, the couple carefully selects causes that buoy those two missions. Kathie, a registered nurse for 30 years and a financial adviser at Oakbridge Financial Services for the past decade, focuses on people’s mental and physical health care, as well as arts education. She serves on several boards, including as past board president of Springboard, an organization that provides in-school arts and enrichment programs; and St. Louis ARC, a nonprofit that offers services for kids and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Richard, who has a background in the banking industry and as president and owner has led Garden View Care Center for more than 25 years, concentrates on giving back to the performing arts and educational institutions. Among organizations he has been involved with are the boards of Dance St. Louis—as past board president, Saint Louis University, Jazz St. Louis and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. The Winters also are longtime supporters of Doorways, which provides housing and services for people living with HIV/AIDS. They also have recently become involved with Stray Dog Theatre, which focuses on live theater and community service, as well as The Stray Pups Youth Theatre, where kids become the stars onstage.
As the pair co-chairs each nonprofit’s signature fundraising event, they say the primary goal is to generate public awareness—to move the organization’s mission forward. But the event also should be fun, Kathie notes. “The really fun events—and ones that are different from others— are what keep people coming back year after year.”
In addition to Circus Flora’s Flora Dora, the Winters have co-chaired Dance St. Louis’ The Ballet Ball, Doorways’ RED gala and Stray Dog Theatre’s Flappers and Follies Soirée, as well as supported Jazz St. Louis’ annual gala.
Each year, the couple keeps raising the bar to attract more people to the organizations. As co-chairs, Kathie handles the events’ organizational meetings, theme and entertainment, while Richard focuses on selling the tables and garnering unique auction items—which have even included a Silver Oak barrel of wine, equivalent to 300 bottles, at a Jazz St. Louis gala. And their secret weapon often is an expert event planner. One such creative contributor is Alexis Tucci, whom they have worked with through the years to take their events over-the-top.
Every event theme is different, allowing guests to wear creative costumes and be immersed in another time period, Kathie explains. Lighting, décor and entertainment can change the atmosphere, she says. For example, Doorways’ RED gala has featured all things Casablanca. And this year’s Flora Dora was a non-stop night of entertainment, complete with a tented outdoor dinner, followed by circus performances under the big top in Grand Center. “They are all memorable because they are all different,” Richard says.
The Winters want to support the area’s thriving arts community, and expose kids to arts experiences so they will carry on the tradition of the city’s beloved entertainment venues, such as Fox Theatre and Jazz St. Louis. And they believe the arts are more than entertainment; they are education. “Not all kids learn from memorizing information from a book; some learn from an artistic adventure that drives home the lesson,” Kathie notes.
That’s why the couple continues to undertake multiple fundraising events year after year—even as many as three galas within three months. And it seems there really is no secret to juggling it all besides good, old-fashioned hard work. As Richard says: “You keep working all day—and all night.”